All photos by Paul Finn
Las Vegas has long been one of my favourite cities, big, OTT, bright and loud - the perfect place to see KISS. I was lucky enough to have the chance to go over for a long weekend to catch the shows on the 14th & 15th November, and I'm so glad I did, it was awesome!
The Hard Rock Casino is about a mile or so from the Vegas strip, conveniently right across from KISS Mini Golf. First thing you notice on entering is that KISS is EVERYWHERE. All the staff are dressed in KISS T's, there's KISS tables, slots, menus, elevators, shop, cookies, massive posters and even Sonic Boom costumes on display. This really was the perfect place to stay with the room being a 5 minute walk to a KISS concert.
The Joint itself is a fairly small venue with a capacity of around 5,000 - on both nights it was packed out. The crowd weren't just your usual fans though, it was a mix of both fans and Vegas tourists (not sure I'd ever wear a collard shirt & trousers to a KISS gig but there go). Either way, everyone was loving the shows, woman next to me on the first night said she'd got tickets as it has always been on her bucket list (she was probably around 60), on night 2 I was standing next to 2 21 year olds who were singing away to every song. Great atmosphere.
The advantage of playing a 3-week stint somewhere like Vegas is that they have the money & time to produce a great show that is well built & has a decent marketing budget behind it. The Hard Rock have gone out of their way to support the band, even their free shuttle has KISS logos all over it. The stage setup was superb, helped by them being able to leave it in place for all 3 weeks, there were some great laser effects and massive screens but sadly the stage was too small for the spider.
The opening was different to those used recently, this time a huge screen covered the stage, it then split in two and each piece moved slowly to the edge of the stage with KISS icons rotating on them. Paul, Gene & Tommy entered from in-between the screens with Eric's drum platform lowering down. The screens were huge and were even up on the 'celling' of the stage.
Set list on both nights was exactly the same with DRC opening both nights (Creatures has also been used as an opener on the earlier shows):-
Detroit Rock City
Creatures Of The Night
War Machine (Gene breathes fire)
Tears Are Falling
Lick It Up
I Love It Loud
Hell Or Hallelujah (Tommy fires rockets)
God Of Thunder (Gene spits blood & flies to rig)
Do You Love Me
Love Gun (Paul sings on platform)
Shout It Out Loud
Rock N Roll All Nite
So no great surprises but really good to hear Creatures again. War Machine had a cool video of KISS 'army' and dragon battling it out, this was created by Tandem Digital for the previous tour and can be seen on their site http://www.tandemdigital.com/portfolio/concerts/kiss/
Do You Love Me had a compilation of KISS videos including ALL members of the band past & present (lots of Eric Carr which was nice to see). However, on my first night some asshole was down at the front annoying Gene during this song. Not entirely sure what he done but he was very drunk and was asked by security to sit down for the whole show to which he refused. I’ve been shown a video of Gene saying to him "My show, not yours, fuck off". Paul then stopped the show and said "I've got 2 words for you - SHUT UP", security were then over and dragged him out. Thing that I can't understand is that the guy had a VIP wristband on and had probably spent a fortune on tickets, you have the best seats in the house and blow it all!
All the usual fire breathing/flying/rockets were there. The main difference being that Paul glides over to a platform that spans the entire width of the crowd. This was great, the first night I was up on the balcony and Paul came right over and sang from both sides of the platform.
The set-list was a little shorter than normal with the encore being cut down to only 2 songs, but after half a tonne of confetti fell during RARAN it was all over and nobody felt short changed. As for Paul's voice - he sounded great, better than the Sonic Boom tour in 2010. Yes they have taken steps to change things a little to help him, tuning down and more backing vocals, but nobody left complaining about any screeching, regardless of what you read from whiners who only watch bad quality audio on YouTube...
So far all the shows have been sell-outs so I would expect this to be as much of a fixture in KISS’ future as the Kruise. Personally I think they compliment each other perfectly, likely not a view held by everyone but like it or not KISS Vegas is here to stay.
So the shows were fantastic, but the good thing about the residency is that they had time to organise other stuff too. There was KISS-e-oake over at KISS Mini Golf, KISS after show parties and book 'signings' from Paul Stanley. All the books were pre-signed but it was a chance to meet Paul (apparently they had 1,000 people on the first session!). Oh and one other thing, Paul told me "UK..., you realise we're coming to see you next year?". But more of that tomorrow...!